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By Sharan Street
Published Aug 01, 2022

CalMatters helps news sites shed light on state government. CalMatters helps news sites shed light on state government. Image credit: Merge Digital Media LLC   Shutterstock

8-1-22: Sacramento Matters

Once upon a time, daily newspapers were central to the communities they covered. Dailies had ample resources to cover local governments and institutions—and, in fact, many even sent reporters to cover the machinations of state government. But that was before newsrooms contracted precipitously during the Great Recession. Nowadays, unless your local newspaper is the Los Angeles Times—which this year expanded its news staff to include two reporters based in Sacramento—news stories about state government may get short shrift.

Seven years ago a group of individuals passionate about the intersection of democracy and journalism set about filling the void left behind when daily newspapers and television stations stopped keeping a close eye on Sacramento politicians. In a 2015 article for Politico, Ken Doctor (coincidentally, the man behind Lookout Santa Cruz) wrote about how CalMatters came into being, quoting its manifesto: “Many of the issues settled in the statehouse—education, environment, criminal justice, healthcare delivery, immigration—play out on the national stage, with a ripple effect that goes far beyond our state borders. And yet, a shockingly small percentage of even the most engaged Californians have any real understanding of how Sacramento works or who the key players are.”

Two years later, CalMatters had solidified its goal of bringing state government reporting to the masses. Co-founder David Lesher told Christine Schmidt of Nieman Lab, “Looking ahead, we are at something of a pivot point. For our mission purpose of just informing voters, does it matter if CalMatters wrote a story that appears in the L.A. Daily News?”

Sharing Is Caring

In 2022, one can find CalMatters articles on news websites and in print publications around the state. Its reporters shed light on our state’s institutions, from the governor’s office down to the most obscure agencies. Over the past several months, California Local has published many of these articles—including the recent stories linked to below.

We congratulate CalMatters on its recent General Excellence award in the digital news category from the California News Publishers Association—regarded by many to be the highest honor a journalism organization can achieve.

CalMatters shares its content with its media partners at no cost. It is funded by a mix of foundations, major donors, corporate sponsors—and readers like you. If you enjoy CalMatters articles on California Local or other sites, support their work directly at this link.

Report: Salmon at Risk From Massive Delta Tunnel Project

An aerial view of the Middle River in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
The tunnel project, which would cost billions and take decades, aims to help shore up water supplies in much of California. The new environmental impact report outlines the impacts.

New Police Accountability Laws Test DoJ’s Limits

New state laws on police accountability are testing the limits of several agencies, including the Department of Justice, which say they need more resources for these new duties.

A New State Agency Aims to Fix Rising Health Care Costs

Bernadette Moordigian in front of the Fresno City College library on July 5, 2022.
For years, consumer advocates and some legislators have been battling to rein in escalating health care costs. Now the state has created a new agency to limit future growth in health care costs — and it will have the power to enforce that mandate.

The Antisocial Network

In addition to fielding their own Sacramento reporters, another benefit that major metropolitan newspapers provide to the civic discourse is the ability to support long-form journalism. One fine example of this is a recent story by reporter Joshua Sharpe, who joined the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this year.

Sharpe puts a microscope on an event that rocked Santa Cruz County: the killing of a sheriff’s deputy by right-wing extremist Steven Carrillo. The article, published a few weeks after Carrillo pleaded guilty to the crime, is an engaging piece of storytelling, but it also examines how a troubled man with military training was radicalized by co-conspiritors he found on the world’s largest social media site.

Facebook and Steven Carrillo: How a Veteran Became a Cop Killer

Steven Carrillo, who has pled guilty to the murders of two law enforcement officers.
Steven Carrillo, an active-duty Air Force servicemember, fell down a rabbit hole of Facebook extremism and became convinced he could start a new civil war. Then he turned his online obsession into real-life murder.

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From Our Media Allies

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The Pajaronian logo Pajaro Valley Chamber Honors 2022 Awardees at Annual Gala

When asked how he and his wife got their start in education, Lowell Hurst responded with a modesty that is synonymous with the longtime politician and educator.

The Pajaronian logo Former Watsonville Mayor Pulls Papers to Run for Council

Two weeks into the candidate nomination period for the Nov. 8 election, several familiar names have surfaced. This includes former mayor and councilwoman Nancy Bilicich.

Santa Cruz Local logo Santa Cruz County Water Managers Describe Challenges, Cooperation

Civil grand jury report urges unified plan amid drought.

Santa Cruz Local logo Rispin Mansion City Park Construction Expected in Spring 2023

Capitola council puts $30,000 toward project.

Press Banner logo New Nonprofit Aims to Spread Joy Through Horsemanship

Kristin Praly, who owns a holistic horse-riding business in Felton, established Horse Sense Education and Advocacy as a 501(c)3 charity earlier this year and is planning to offer a range of programs.

Press Banner logo SVUSD Student Shares Love of Vegan Baking

The sweet pink frosting on the lemon cookie beckons, reflecting the midday Scotts Valley sunlight. Adina Licht, 51, takes a bite of the lemon cookie and smiles in approval.

The Pajaronian logo Watsonville Playwright’s New Work Explores Family, Culture

Writer, director and actor Steve “Spike” Wong remembers the moment he realized he wanted to tell stories. He was about 5 years old and was riding the Jungle Cruise attraction at Disneyland.

The Pajaronian logo Affordable Housing Projects Move Forward in South County

Earth-moving equipment is carving up three lots off of Freedom Boulevard to make way for more than 200 affordable housing units set to be completed by nonprofit developers over the next two years.

Good Times logo Plant-Based Meals Get a Boost in Santa Cruz Schools

What the public-school push means for local kids—and the rest of us.

Good Times logo The Biggest Food and Drink Events Yet to Come in 2022

Foodies, beer lovers and oenophiles, mark your calendars.

Good Times logo Potential Candidates Step Forward for Nov. 8 Election

Former assemblyman, county treasurer and supervisor Fred Keeley headlines early list of possible nominees.

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Recent News

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The Politics of Saving the Monterey Bay

Former legislator Sam Farr writes, “There are four parts to the story of protecting Monterey Bay and the central coast.” He outlines them all, then notes that the fourth one—the effort to enact a National Standard for Ocean Protection—is still a work in progress in the rest of the nation.

(July 31, 2022) → Read the full Santa Cruz County Sentinel report

Santa Cruz Water Commission Considers Climate Change Scenarios

With the help of University of Massachusetts professor Casey Brown, the Santa Cruz Water Commission has created a modeling tool that allows commission members to explore the ways that shifts in the climate could affect the Santa Cruz water supply.

(July 28, 2022) → Read the full Santa Cruz County Sentinel report

Report Shows Only San Francisco Beats Santa Cruz Area Rental Costs

A newly released housing report ranks the Santa Cruz-Watsonville metropolitan area as the second most expensive region in the nation for renters. The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s report documents the gap between wages and the price of housing.

(July 28, 2022) → Read the full Santa Cruz County Sentinel report

Anzar Fire Fully Contained

Fire crews continued their mop-up work after Cal Fire San Benito-Monterey Unit reported 100% containment of the Anzar Fire. The 104-acre fire, which broke out July 21 near the Aromas Granite Quarry, claimed two structures.

(July 28, 2022) → Read the full Santa Cruz County Sentinel report

Three Misapprehensions Heard in the Abortion Debate

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the federal right to abortion, things are more than a little confused. But amid all the confusion, some things are simply not true. Veteran reporter Julie Rovner dissects three myths going around about the abortion debate.

(July 27, 2022) → Read the full Voices of Monterey Bay report

Santa Cruz County COVID Tracking Gets More Sophisticated

Omicron’s emergence has brought more surges and reconsideration of mask mandates. But can a traditional vaccine and a booster that targets Omicron help end the variant’s reign?

(July 26, 2022) → Read the full Lookout Local report
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Upcoming Government Meetings

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Event sponsor logo County of Santa Cruz / Commission on Disabilities
TODAY   12:30 PM
Event sponsor logo County of Santa Cruz / County Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Commission
TODAY   5:30 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Scotts Valley / Planning Commission
TODAY   6:00 PM
Event sponsor logo County of Santa Cruz / Live Oak Town Hall
TODAY   6:00 PM
Event sponsor logo County of Santa Cruz / Transportation & Public Works Commission
Monday August 15 2022   6:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Santa Cruz / Transportation and Public Works Commission
Monday August 15 2022   6:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Capitola / Commission on the Environment Meeting
Wednesday August 17 2022   6:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Santa Cruz / Historic Preservation Commission
Wednesday August 17 2022   7:00 PM
Event sponsor logo Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission / Transportation Policy Workshop
Thursday August 18 2022   9:00 AM
Event sponsor logo City of Capitola / Planning Commission Meeting
Thursday August 18 2022   7:00 PM
Event sponsor logo County of Santa Cruz / Planning Commission
Thursday August 18 2022   7:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Santa Cruz / Planning Commission
Thursday August 18 2022   7:00 PM